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The Yateley Society / TownPlanning

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Page history last edited by R H Johnston 15 years, 2 months ago

Yateley Society Planning Subcommittee


Yateley Society Planning Subcommittee Activities


As a Civic Society, planning is a principal concern, and one of the main reasons why local people belong to the Society. Because of its location, Yateley is perpetually in danger of unsuitable new development. The quality of Yateley as a place to live depends on maintaining the existing balance between build development and the natural environment.


The Planning Subcommittee has appeared at every major planning inquiry since our formation. Times have changed a great deal since the marathon inquiries of the early 1980s which involved three major applicants for three major sites. The Society obtained a substantial grant from the Department of the Environment to stage an exhibition Yateley -- "Whose Town is it Anyway?" which set out to demonstrate the development options for Yateley in the run-up to the First Hart Local Plan. Opinion research, in conjunction with the exhibition, determined the Society's evidence at our first public inquiry in 1982. At this Hill Farm Inquiry the Society was the only body to draw to the attention of the Inspector that the proposed development would significantly affect the integrity of the Yateley Common Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Although that appeal was refused, primarily on access grounds, environmental considerations were not deemed important planning considerations in 1982. Some 14 years later in 1996, the Society was proud that it played a major role in the Cobbetts Lane Inquiry for the same site. This resulted in the first planning decision in the country to refuse an application from the standpoint that the housing development would significantly affect the Yateley Common SSSI which is now being proposed as a Special Protection Area (SPA) for wild birds under European legislation.


The Society was instrumental in identifying the significance of the wet heathland bog at Castle Bottom which lead to its achieving SSSI status. Castle Bottom is now one of only nine National Nature Reserves (NNR) in Hampshire, and a significant site in the Thames Basin Heaths SPA. Society work parties continue to play an important role in the physical maintenance of the NNR.


The Society has played a major role in local planning, suggesting the extension of the Yateley Green Conservation Area to include all of Yateley Green and proposing, in the First Local Plan Inquiry, a Yateley Town Centre Plan. We have played a major role at public inquiries concerned with Yateley's historic listed buildings, contributing historical and archaelogical evidence.


In recent years the Society has continued to be busy on the planning front. Much of the work has concerned repeated applications for the development of sensitive sites, such as the third Inquiry for housing development at Fox Farm, off Monteagle Lane, which took about 3 years from start to finish. More recently the Society's evidence was pivotal in saving Yateley Lodge from being converted into a public house, and in persuading the Inspector to refuse major commercial development at Clarks Farm, though development pressure on this site still continues. In addition the Society comments upon, and appears at Inquiries for more minor developments where these affect issues of strategic importance.


The Society played its part in the very long running saga of the new Hart Local Plan (1996-2006). The Society appeared at the Inquiry which opened in September 1997. No further housing development was proposed in the Plan for Yateley by Hart District Council. However developers objecting to the plan cumulatively had proposed up to 800 houses in Yateley, thereby increasing its population by up to a further 10%, and building on practically every field left which is not registered common land. The housing sites proposed by developers objecting to Hart's Local Plan included Cobbetts Lane, Fox Farm, the Urnfield Site to the north of Vicarage Road, and Love Lane Fields, thus seeking to extend Yateley into Eversley. All of these objection sitres were excluded from ythe final plan.


The report of the panel who presided over the Examination in Public into the Hampshire Structure Plan was reviewed in 1998. For the first time the Society was given the unusual distinction of being represented at the EIP, and generally supported the County Council.


Hart District and Yateley Town Council officials and members regularly seek our help and opinions on planning matters, and good relations are generally maintained with County, District and Town Councillors, a number of whom are Society members.


The recent introduction of more formal systems for involving voluntary organisations such as the Yateley Society in developing policy has increased the workload substantially. For example the “Yateley Village Design Framework”, a scheme for deciding what improvements might be made to the Reading Road through Yateley involved a number of ordinary Society members in a walk-about to discover the facts on the ground, and how we as members of the local community think the issues raised should be addressed.


The Yateley Society's Planning Policies


At the Society's AGM every year we develop the Society's planning policies, debating motions concerned with key planning or environmental issues. The resolutions are often sent to the appropriate public body. We note with wry satisfaction that public policy eventually follows our resolutions, but unfortunately only after an interval of some ten years.


Having commented in detail on every structure plan and local plan, we are pleased that planning guidance and and emerging plans are converging rapidly with the Society's long established policies.


The Society's approach to Planning


The Society has built its reputation, and effectiveness, in dealing with planning issues by adopting an essentially professional approach, which in many respects mirrors the official "planning system".


For most people, their only contact with the planning system is in relation to planning applications, either because they want to build something themselves, or because a development is proposed on land near their home. In the latter case, the question is whether they like the proposed development or not, and how it impacts them. It may be that, in the case of large developments, by the time a planning application is made it is actually far too late to stop it, because the land has been allocated for development in the Local Authority's planning policies.


The Society, as is shown by what has already been stated above of our history as regards planning, involves itself in process of setting the Local Authority's policy framework in which planning decisions are made by contributing to and commenting on the planning framework. By taking part in this process, we make a positive contribution to getting policies which suit Yateley, to make it a better place to live. Also, we have sometimes succeeded in heading off major developments in unsuitable places by getting the sites excluded from the plan.


As a result of taking part in this underlying process we get to understand contraints and opportunities of the Government's and Local Authority's planning policies.


Consequently when the Society comments on particular proposals, using its policy based approach it can take a larger and more consistent view about any proposals. How does this proposed development impact or contribute to the locality as a whole, and how does it fit in with the Local Authority's planning framework and with the Society's own planning policies? Hence in responding to a planning application, it is never simply a question of getting a majority view of members by a show of hands and making that the basis of the Society's response. Instead we assess whether the proposals are consistent with the established policy framework. This can sometimes make the Society unpopular, even with some of its members!


Once the policy framework is in place, the planning system is inherently adversarial. Many people do not understand the implications of this for how the Society has to operate within the system.


The planning applicant wants to develop a piece of land, and it may be that the proposals conflict with the established planning policies. The applicant makes the best case he can for his development, and he obviously does not point out the problems with his application. The decisionmaker (usually the Local Authority) has to consider that application against the policies, and needs to consider all the issues, including ones the applicant has not mentioned. The purpose of the "planning objection" system is so that the decisionmaker has all the relevant information he needs to make the right decision, weighing the advantages to the applicant against the drawbacks to neighbours and the general public interest. It is inevitable therefore that the comments the Society makes in such circumstances are "one-sided", putting the case against the application, to balance the case in favour put forward by the applicant.


Thus The Yateley Society is not the decisionmaker, but an advocate. This can make the Society appear negative as regards planning in the eyes of some people. What people do not realise is that most of what we do positively for Yateley people takes place through the development of good planning policies, by taking part in discussions behind the scenes, and what we are doing when we respond critically to planning applications is in defence of those policies, for the public good.


What does the Yateley Society consider when it decides whether to comment on Planning Applications?


Many planning applications are for small developments that would only affect their immediate locality, and the Yateley Society does not comment on most of those applications. If the immediate neighbours do not like the application, then they should make representations to Hart District Council for themselves. Yateley Society members who find themselves in that position may seek advice from the Society about the sorts of comments which are likely to be taken account of by the Planning Authority.


When commenting on Planning Applications, the Society considers whether the Development will:

  • Be consistent with high standards of town planning
  • Conform with policies in Local Plans, Conservation Area Statements etc
  • Affect Conservation Areas, Listed Buildings, buildings of local importance
  • Affect any historic landscape features or archaeological site
  • Affect Common land or Nature Conservation interests
  • Close or compromise Strategic Gaps between communities
  • Affect the character of Yateley as a place in which to live and work
  • Cause road safety/parking/traffic congestion problems
  • Cause a precedent for further Development
  • Necessitate additional housing for proposed commercial Development
  • Necessitate additional Development for proposed housing


Yateley's Listed Buildings, Conservation Areas and Special Protection Areas


Listed Buildings:


Yateley Hall

Yateley Hall/Stable Block

St Peters Church

Glebe House

Barclay House

Yateley Lodge

Monteagle House

The White Lion Public House

Ye Old Vicarage

7, 9, 11, 15, 15a Knellers Cottage

1 & 2 Yew Tree Cottage

Corner Cottage

The Nest

Cross Oak Cottage

Staplens Cottage

Clarks Farm House

Pond Farm

Pond Cottage


Conservation Areas:


Yateley Green

Cricket Hill

Darby Green


Special Protection Area for Wild Birds:


Castle Bottom to Yateley Common SSSI including

*Castle Bottom

*part of Blackbushe Airport

*Yateley Country Park

*MOD Land


Evidence Given



Yateley Footways


The Society undertook a survey of Yateley's footways



Yateley Community Plan


The Society played a significant role in seeking to develop this plan, which is intended to form a part in the New Statutory Planning Framework, and provided much background information. Further details provided here

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